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Samsung Q8C QLED Review: Every gamer's dream TV

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Samsung's new QLED range is a new step in TV tech for the brand. Instead of opting in for the expensive OLED display that LG has in their B range, the QLED uses the new technology known as Quantum Dots to produce light. It is quite a marvel to think about as the 12 LED lights at the bottom of the TV shoot up light and these tiny microdots then sparkle to produce images. There are millions of these microdots on the TV which gives it refined visuals and the most vibrant colour I have seen on a display. The Quantum Dot display also allows for much deeper blacks than a standard UHD display thanks to the LED lights being at the bottom of the TV and not being a back-lit display.

All this tech comes together to produce great visuals for gaming no matter what your preference but there is much more going on behind the scenes as the QLED range seems to be built with gamers in mind. SteamLink lets you stream your PC games to the TV in gorgeous 4K 60FPS, the Smart Hub makes it more accessible than ever to access your consoles, and the Quantum Dot technology in hand with the PS4 Pro and Xbox One X is a match made in heaven. 

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Big sizes for big games

The QLED range comes in a few models. The 65-inch Q8C model I received is the top of the range model here in SA but there is also the Q7C, Q7F, and even the Q8F. Everything ending with a "C" is a curved display, and the "F" TVs are flat screens. Each model also comes with a range of sizes from 55-inch to 75-inch. The 75-inch is not available here in SA and only imported at a special request. The 55-inch models start at R19,999, with the price going up in R10k segments all the way up to the 65-inch Q8C model that will set you back R54,999. If anything, the pricing is quite reasonable considering LG's OLED range starts at R39,999 for the 55-inch.

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This is not an entry-level TV at all, but it does cater for the mid-range to high-end buyers who are looking for a TV with tech that will last them a good couple of years. With gaming being so heavily focused on 4K and HDR these days, the QLED range will keep your hardware running at the highest possible quality until a new massive step in gaming tech comes along. 

Technology Equals Art

The Samsung QLED range delivers a stunning piece of tech that looks great from all angles. The range does vary depending on the model. The Q7C model I bought myself has a black back finish with a steel stand in a "V" shape and a metal trim. The Q8C model is metal all around the display with a round stand. The TV's are beautiful and there are various stands you can get that compliment the design. One that I am looking for is the canvas stand that lets the TV stand up as if it was a painting, but there are others too. The flat TV range can be mounted to the wall with no gap at all for a beautiful picturesque look to it. 

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I already covered the assembly of the TV in a video, but just know that it was simple but relied on two people due to the sheer size of the display. The magic of how the QLED works is in its One Connect box. A small device that acts as the brain for the TV. Instead of having a dozen ports at the back, the One Connect is the hub for all the HMDI cables, sound, internet, and USBs. Everything plugs into it and one thin fibre optic cable runs up through the stand into the TV and sends all the signal to the display. It is also not limited to any frequency as it can send HDR and 4K to the TV without any compression at all. It is impressive and creates a cleaner environment for the display and the lack of wires is a welcomed one. 

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The One Connect Box does get a bit hot after a while but this is expected due to the processing that takes place in it. I mean it is a lot of content being sent to the box at once. 

The Display

I tested the QLED on a few consoles. I played on the Nintendo Switch, PS4 Pro, and Xbox One S during my time with the TV. It was mixed results but never a disappointment. The magic of the QLED is how bright the display can get reaching 1000 nits. This peak brightness comes in handy for HDR gaming as Assassin's Creed: Origins was the perfect title to test. The QLED delivered rich and vibrant colours, and the HDR increased the colour space allowing for more realistic visuals. Then we have the brightness. For those who don't know, HDR relies on a bright display and if a TV can reach a specific brightness then it gets certified as an HDR TV. The QLED is probably one of the brightest TVs I have ever seen, as it lit up the room to extreme conditions. This then allowed for the HDR to push through realistic lighting that meant when I turned the camera to the sun it was so bright that it stung my eyes a bit. 

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The same can then be said for the black levels of the HDR as it allows for pure blacks on screen without the white glow due to the backlight. When I was in caves in ACO, the black was almost as if it was pitch black at night. This again is produced thanks to the Quantum Dots lighting up individually across the screen when they are needed.

While the same picture quality cannot be delivered on the Switch, the 4K upscaler worked pretty well to deliver Super Mario Odyssey on the TV at 1080p. The same vibrant colours were delivered thanks to the QLED's 100% colour feature, and the bright display gave more life to the game than I expected. 

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While the tech is amazing, it is not 100% there in terms of pure blacks delivered on screen. While most images are fantastic, if the image is made up of a lot of black areas, the underlit LED lights do create a small glow on the display that is just not as great as the OLED range. The 12 LEDs at the bottom of the TV shoot up light, so when they hit the Quantum Dots they let off a verticle glow that continues up to the top of the TV. This is the glow that can be seen when looking at black images. OLED displays use individual pixels that light up to create a perfectly black image as the pixels just do not light up unless they need to. The QLED is not there yet but we are talking about a TV that is a fraction of the cost of OLEDs, and the black levels are impressive considering this is an LED TV. The Quantum Dots do deliver a much better black and light experience over standard LEDs, almost a leap and jump beyond in my opinion. 

I do believe that Samsung has a good thing going here for the QLED tech, and hopefully in three years or so we will see the light glow eliminated completely from the display. The results for gaming were beyond anything I ever expected though. Seen as the images are more static than movies, the blacks, colours, and brights are truly magnificent. Forza Horizon 3 looked great, Assassin's Creed: Origins was stunning, even Call of Duty: WWII's HDR support delivered an experience I wish I had when I reviewed the game last month.

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The QLED does not have the best viewing angle on the market. With the TV going so bright you would think that images would be viewable from all angles but that is not the case. There is a sweet spot on the curved model that delivers the best experience with very little glow and the best light and colour. When you move out of the sweet spot the glow becomes more apparent and the more you move to the side the less colour and detail is seen on the TV. Blacks start to look grey and the colour is lost. This is not the end of the world, but keep this in mind if you have seating placed at a 50-degree and up angle to the side of the TV.

In terms of HDR gaming and its input lag, we know it has been an issue in the past. LG just suffered some terrible backlash when they did not include an HDR game mode in their OLED range, but Samsung seems to have this tackled from day one. The QLED has a 24ms input lag that is the lowest in the industry. This is both in SDR and HDR mode. I was impressed to see just how well this was handled and it should be an industry standard from now on. Keep in mind that we are talking about the HDMI going into the One Connect, and then through the fibre cable to the TV. 24ms is pretty impressive if you take all this into consideration. 


The Smart Features

I have always been a huge fan of LG's WebOS but the QLED's Smart Hub offers the same amount of customization on offer as you would expect from it. The Smart Hub is easily accessed using the sleek remote and from there you can choose what you want to open and it launches. This includes even launching your consoles and controlling them using the QLED's remote control. 

The Smart Hub also customizes the experience for you by placing your items where you want them and even gives the Xbox One a cool logo to stand out amongst the rest on the grid. The best feature of all has to be the SteamLink that has been built into every QLED. This lets you stream your Steam games directly to the TV at 4K 60FPS over a local network connection. 

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The results were almost flawless at all times besides a lag spike every now and then. I pushed my PC to the extreme and the TV too by testing our various games like The Darkness II, Portal 2 and more. Each game successfully managed to stream to the TV with great quality as if the PC was actually plugged into the TV already. Crisp visuals, solid frame rates, and great surround sound too. It is a great way to play PC games on a 4K TV especially if it is a 65-inch and up. You will never get to experience that on a PC monitor of that size. 

Price and comparison

So the idea behind the QLED is that it is able to replicate the black levels of an OLED display without pushing the price up too much and Samsung achieved this. The QLED range starts at R19,999 and goes up to R55,999 of the top of the range model you can find in SA which is the 75-inch curved display. Comparing that to the OLED, you can pick up a 55-inch for R49,999 with the 65-inch setting you back R79,999. The price difference is rather drastic. Sure, the QLED does have some glow on the screen and cannot deliver the pitch black, sharp OLED image, but its colours are vibrant, it is one of the brightest, if not the brightest display I have ever seen, and the cost is almost of an OLED purchase.

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Yes, Samsung made a premium TV with new technology and found a way to bypass the OLED's cost, and the results are awesome. The only bad thing I can say about it is that its 30-degree viewing angle promise does not always deliver. There is indeed a sweet spot you need to stay in to get the best picture overall and as soon as you head out of the 30-degree mark blacks turn to grey and colours get washed out. At least is has zero burn in at all, which is a big deal. 

Last negative, promise. Samsung's extra accessories for the TV are very pricey. If you break your fibre cable then get ready to fork out at least R4000 for a replacement. The same goes for the extra stands as the QLED boasts a range of gorgeous mounts and stands. One particular one I wanted was the Canvas stand that lets the TV stand on legs making it look like a piece of art. This stand will set you back R13,999. The lesser of the two is the Gravity Stand that gives the display the option to rotate. This too costs a small pocket of R8,999. I will not be using any extra stand on my TV I purchased it seems. 

Verdict

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The QLED is a stunning TV that breathes new life into any room. Not only is it stylish but it opens up the doors for the future of gaming in terms of 4K HDR. It handles HDR two hundred times better than any other LED on the market and the Quantum Dots bring colours to life to add to that. It is fairly priced too as TVs are becoming an investment rather than just something you buy. Its video game console integration is also the best on the market and you can clearly see Samsung had the gamer in mind when they included the SteamLink support and the lowest HDR input lag of 24ms. The QLED should be on everyone's wishlist this Christmas. 

This review as done on a Samsung QLED Q8C model given to us by Samsung over a period of three weeks. I also purchased the Q7C model which I used to compare some of the features. 

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